Posts tagged: Garlic

Aromatic Essentials

There is something special about walking into someone’s home and relishing the aroma of garlic and onions sauteing in a pan in a kitchen nearby. Garlic and onions as well as bell peppers and celery are commonly used in recipes as a sort of backbone to magically transform food into mouthwatering dishes. It is inconceivable to think you could complete cuisines such as Cajun, Indian, Mexican or African without these essential aromatics!

If you’re one of the very few who don’t cook with these gems, then consider some interesting health facts that you might not have heard of before.

  • Garlic

Nursing mothers will be happy to hear that this marvel will help their babies nurse longer and drink more breast milk. According to researchers, the trick is for mom to consume garlic two hours prior to feeding time when the aroma is strongest in the breast milk which will be much more enticing to baby. (Tricks of the Trade, Vol. I from Midwifery Today).  You can make a great peanut sauce with garlic and enjoy some healthy Vietnamese spring rolls for lunch!

  • Onion

It is well documented in medical science that onions share cancer fighting properties with garlic and bell peppers, as well as various antiseptic properties. Some websites even re-post this unsourceable statement about onions: “Egyptians numbered over 8000 onion-alleviated ailments.” Whether or not this is a historical exaggeration, there was plenty of evidence left behind by the ancient Egyptians that illustrate how much the onion was highly regarded in their cuisine and health.  Try an enchilada recipe  for a healthy dose of onion goodness!

  • Bell Pepper

According to scientists, a serious depletion of vitamin A occurs in smokers due to a carcinogen found in cigarettes. Foods rich in vitamin A, such as bell peppers and chili peppers, can protect smokers from developing emphysema or lung inflammation. Also, the high vitamin C content in bell peppers have also been seen by researchers to protect people from developing cataracts and from crippling rheumatoid arthritis. (World’s Healthiest Foods)  A good way to enjoy this aromatic is in salads or a sausage wrap this summer!

  • Celery

Celery contains a high amount of a natural steroid called androstenone, which increases pheromone levels in men when they sweat. Co-authors Dr. Judy Garman, Dr. Walter Gaman and Dr. Mark Anderson call celery “vegetable Viagra” in their new book called “Stay Young: Ten Proven Steps to Ultimate Health.”  So, get yourself some stalks of celery and peanut butter (or hummus) as a snack or in stuffing with a nice cut of pork for the ladies.

Without a doubt, there is more to these essential aromatic foods than meets the eye. There are other aromatics that are worth mentioning and exploring such as shallots, ginger, herbs, spices, peppers and others.  All have unique properties to enrich your life and, most especially, your palate.  So, cook more at home and be in control of your health!

Spring Roll Party

A great way to spend an afternoon with friends and family is to invite them over for a culinary adventure!  I asked two of my friends, Gene and Hong, to walk me through Vietnamese spring roll making, and they both agreed to educate and share their experience with me.      

 To save money and time, Gene, Hong and I decided to share the task and cost of preparing some things at home the day before doing the spring rolls.  I boiled two pounds of shrimp, Gene BBQ’d a pork loin, and Hong brought some fried tofu from a local vendor.  Here’s how Gene and I prepared our stuff…     

 Gene’s BBQ’d Pork Loin     

  1. In a ziploc bag add ground black pepper, garlic powder and a squirt of Sriracha hot chili sauce.
  2. Add loin to mix and shake it up
  3. Marinade for1 hour
  4. Grill, sear and smoke the loin
  5. Add BBQ sauce at the end

Yvette’s Shrimp Boil      

  1. Thaw a 2 lb bag of frozen shrimp, devained and shelled
  2. Boil water and add shrimp with shell on
  3. Scoop the shrimp out when they float to the top (small strainer helps)
  4. Let them cool and then peel off the shell

(I could have put some Cajun spices to the boil but I didn’t think of it)     

On the day we planned to make these spring rolls, we first went to an Asian supermarket, and for me this was the intimidating part!  Most staff are willing to help but the easiest way is if you have an Asian friend to take you on a small tour. (Thanks, Hong!)  This author was surprised to discover fresh and inexpensive herbs there!   Compare prices at your local Asian market vs. regular grocery store and be amazed!  

Here’s how we did all the prep work the day of of spring rolling…     

 Peanut Sauce Prep     

  1. Saute 4-5 shallot cloves, chopped
  2. Once the shallots are caramelized, throw in 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  3. 1 cup of hoison
  4. 1/3 of a jar of peanut butter
  5. 1 cup of water (or as much as desired in thickness)
  6. Dash of rooster sauce or Tabasco sauce to taste

Rice Noodle Prep      

  1.  Boil the rice noodles or bun (pronounced like boon) for about 5-8 minutes for a softer noodle
  2. Separate the noodles in small clumps in a large strainer for easier pickin’s
  3. Rinse the bun two times in cold water

Herb Prep      

  1. Wash the curly lettuce twice
  2.  Soak and wash twice the cilantro (Ngo), Thai basil (Que), mint (Kanh Gioi), lemon herb (Rau ram). thin leeks (He).  For a spicier mix add spearmint (Hung Cay) or peppermint (Hung Hui).

 Okay!  Let’s put all these things together!!!  

 
For a recipe on crispy spring rolls, check out my article on Associated Content.  
 
 

           Introduction to Asian Cuisine with Dorothy Huang
If you were ever frustrated about how your attempts at Asian cooking turn out, it’s possible you might be tempted to give up and just order in.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2972480/introduction_to_asian_cuisine_with.html?cat=22     

Pesto Falso

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa in of northern Italy (pesto alla genovese). Pesto in its basic form is basil, garlic, salt, pine nuts and olive oil — that’s it! Making fresh pesto can be a little expensive, so I developed this recipe to help reduce cost, but still retain that great pesto flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2 ounces sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon dried Basil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil

Directions:

Add cilantro, garlic, basil, salt and pepper to a blender. Blend until well mixed and all ingredients are finely chopped. Next add the almonds and again blend until well mixed and finely chopped. Now drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto reaches the desired consistency. That’s it — enjoy.

Basic Marinara

This is a basic marinara sauce, and is a great starting point for creating your own recipe or just experimenting with new flavors. You can use this sauce in a variety of dishes from basic pasta to a chicken or veal Parmesan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (26 oz.) can peeled whole tomatoes
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup flat chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil (1/2 cup fresh chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

Directions:

Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden being careful not to burn. Add onions, basil, parsley and pepper flakes. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with liquid. Break up tomatoes with fork. Cook over medium heat for 1 hour stirring occasionally. The sauce can keep up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

For variations you can add 1/2 to 1 pound of fine ground meat such as Italian sausage, chuck, sirloin, chorizo, chopped pancetta or even chopped pepperoni.

White Fish Butter Sauce

Butter Sauce with Talapia

Butter Sauce with Talapia

A nice little butter sauce that pairs very well with fish.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup shallot, diced
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons cream or milk
  • 2 teaspoons green peppercorn
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of ground pepper

Directions:

Melt butter in a small sauce pan with wine. Add shallot, peppercorn, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes stirring in a little cream every minute. Add garlic in the last minute. Serve over the fish of your choice, but white fish such a Talapia, Halibut and even Catfish are all great candidates. Sauce can be strained for a more refined version.

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